Daily Archives: May 27, 2017

Warren Haynes Remembers 'Dear Friend' Gregg Allman

Warren Haynes has penned a tribute to his musical hero, friend and band mate Gregg Allman following the Allman Brothers Band leader’s death Saturday.

“I am truly honored to have been fortunate enough to have written many songs with him and equally honored to have traveled the world with him while making the best music the world has ever known. I will never, ever take that for granted. And on top of all that, he was my dear friend,” Haynes wrote on Facebook.

“My fondest memories will always be of Gregg, myself, and [late Allman Brothers bassist] Allen Woody sharing a tour bus together-listening to great music and laughing our asses off mile after mile. Traveling – like life – is so much better when you’ve got friends to share the experience with. I’ve lost too many lately and this one is gonna be hard to get past. There is some comfort in knowing that millions of people all over the world feel the same way.”

In Haynes’ tribute, he writes about worshipping the Allman Brothers Band as a musician growing up in the South and how the band blended “soul, blues, rock, country, jazz-all mixed together in a way no one had ever done before.”

“Here was this group of Southern hippies with an integrated band coming out of the Deepest South with equally deep music on the heels of some extremely deep changes. We didn’t realize how heavy that was at the time but we sure realized how heavy the music was,” Haynes wrote.

“Every guitar player in every Southern town was listening to the Live at Fillmore East record and worshipping at the altar of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. But the icing on the cake was always Gregg’s voice.”

Haynes performed with the Dickey Betts Band and co-wrote Allman’s 1988 solo song “Before the Bullets Fly” before he ultimately joined the reunited Allman Brothers Band in 1989. Haynes remained a member until 1997, when he left to focus on his and Woody’s Gov’t Mule; following Woody’s death in 2000, he rejoined the Allmans, performing with the group until their final gigs in 2014.

[Allman] wrote these amazing songs that were as natural as his voice was,” Haynes continued. “The words and melodies felt so perfectly unpretentious and, when delivered by him, made an emotional connection that only happens when music is genuine and honest. I learned an enormous amount about singing and songwriting from him—most of it before we ever met.”

Read Haynes’ entire Allman remembrance below:

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Cher Mourns Ex-Husband Gregg Allman: 'Words Are Impossible'

When news broke that Southern rock pioneer, the great Gregg Allman died, his famous ex-wife Cher tweeted a brief yet sentimental tribute using their old pet names for one another. “Words are impossible, Gui Gui” she wrote in her requisite all-caps lettering. “Forever, Chooch.” 

Between 1975 and 1977, Cher and Gregg Allman met, married, divorced, remarried, had a son and made an album together, aptly titled Two the Hard Way. The unlikely pairing of sleek, newly single pop diva and untamed southern rocker perplexed the public. But their partnership coincided during a mutually transitional period as both musicians strove to reinvent themselves in the next decade. 

In 1975, Cher was famously navigating a messy divorce and custody battle from her longtime partner and variety show co-host, Sonny Bono. (She wed Allman days after her divorce from Bono). Meanwhile, the Allman Brothers Band was reckoning with an ongoing DEA investigation and Gregg’s escalating drug abuse. In 1976, the band officially broke up. The same year, Gregg and Cher’s son, Elijah Blue, was born, and the couple tried to rekindle their relationship.  

While the marriage was fleeting, the initial spark between Allman and Cher was incendiary. “She smelled like I would imagine a mermaid would smell,” Allman wrote in his memoir, recalling the first time he met her backstage in Los Angeles. 

The always-glamorous California native also took him out to his first disco. “I don’t know how to dance, but I got drunk enough to where I did. I danced my ass off. This is when disco was just taking off, so we did some dirty dancing. She had one drink, while I had my 21, of course. When we got back to her place, she took me out to her rose garden, and all the roses were just starting to bloom.” 

By 1978, Cher and Allman had broken up for the last time as romantic partners and musical collaborators. Despite the emotional turbulence fans saw splashed across tabloid magazine covers, Cher told People, nearly 40 years ago: “Nobody ever made me feel as happy as Gregory did … he’s wonderful. I don’t understand why he can’t see it. He’s the kindest, most gentle, loving husband and father. But then, he forgets and everything goes to shit.” 

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See Guns N' Roses Cover 'Black Hole Sun' for Chris Cornell in Ireland

Guns N’ Roses kicked off the latest leg of their Not in This Lifetime Tour Saturday night in Slane, Ireland, where the band performed Soundgarden‘s “Black Hole Sun” as a tribute to Chris Cornell.

“This one’s to you Chris, Black Hole Sun live from Slane Castle,” the band’s Twitter wrote moments after the performance of the Superunknown classic.

Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, a fellow Seattle native who performed alongside Cornell in the reunited Mad Season, tweeted following Cornell’s death, “RIP Chris Cornell. Truly sad for his children and family….and the rest of us. A good man.”

Guns N’ Roses are the latest artist to tackle “Black Hole Sun” following Cornell’s unexpected death on May 18th, with Norah Jones, Heart’s Ann Wilson, Ryan Adams, Cody Jinks & Paul Cauthen and more among the artists to perform the Soundgarden single.

Cornell was laid to rest Friday at a private ceremony in Los Angeles that was attended by his band mates and grunge peers, including members of Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Audioslave, Pharrell Williams, Courtney Love, Nile Rodgers, Billy Idol and more.

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Gregg Allman, Southern Rock Pioneer, Dead at 69

Gregg Allman, the singer, musician and songwriter who played an essential role in the invention of Southern rock, has died at the age of 69. Allman’s rep confirmed to Rolling Stone that the artist died Saturday afternoon.

Allman “passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia,” a statement on the singer’s website read Saturday. “Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times.”

“It’s too soon to properly process this,” Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts said in a statement. “I’m so glad I was able to have a couple good talks with him before he passed. In fact I was about to call him to check and see how he was when I got the call. It’s a very sad day.”

Allman’s longtime manager and close friend Michael Lehman added, “I have lost a dear friend and the world has lost a brilliant pioneer in music. He was a kind and gentle soul with the best laugh I ever heard. His love for his family and bandmates was passionate as was the love he had for his extraordinary fans. Gregg was an incredible partner and an even better friend. We will all miss him.”

A cause of death was not immediately revealed, but Allman suffered from chronic liver issues in recent years.

Although Allman claimed the term was redundant, the singer-keyboardist helped create the first great “Southern-rock” group as co-founder of the legendary Allman Brothers Band alongside his older brother, famed guitarist Duane Allman. The Allmans fused country blues with San Francisco-style extended improvisation, with their sound creating a template for countless subsequent jam bands. Gregg Allman was blessed with one of blues-rock’s great growling voices and, along with his Hammond B-3 organ playing (beholden to Booker T. Jones), had a deep emotional power. Writing in Rolling Stone, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons said that Allman’s singing and keyboard playing displayed “a dark richness, a soulfulness that added one more color to the Allmans’ rainbow.”

“I’ve tried … Words are impossible. Gui Gui forever. Chooch,” Cher wrote on Twitter. “Rest in peace Greg [sic] Allman peace and love to all the family,” Ringo Starr wrote. The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir added, “Bon Voyage, Brother Gregg, enjoy your next stop…”

As he recounted in his 2012 memoir My Cross to Bear, Allman also experienced a quintessential, and essentially tragic, rock-star trajectory that included too-sudden fame, admittedly excessive drug use, a high-profile celebrity romance, multiple marriages and a late-life liver transplant.

Gregory LeNoir Allman was born December 8th, 1947, in Nashville, Tennessee, a little more than a year after brother Duane. The boys’ father, U.S. Army Captain Willis Turner Allman, was shot to death by a drinking acquaintance shortly after the family moved to Norfolk, Virginia in 1949. As a child, Gregg saved up money from a paper route and bought a guitar that was soon appropriated by his older brother. The siblings attended Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee, before moving to Daytona Beach, Florida. Duane talked his brother into joining a racially integrated band, the House Rockers, shocking their mother. “We had to turn my mother on to the blacks,” Gregg told 16-year-old Cameron Crowe in the 1973 Rolling Stone cover story that would inspire Crowe’s 2000 film Almost Famous. He added that it “[t]ook a while, but now she’s totally liberated.” Following Allman’s death, Crowe tweeted, “Thank you Gregg Allman … for the inspiration, and for those many holy nights on stage.”

After playing in bands like the Untils, the Shufflers, the Escorts and the Y-Teens, the brothers took their band Allman Joys on the road in the summer of 1965 following Gregg’s graduation from Seabreeze High School. They often played six sets a night, seven nights a week, and eventually moved to Los Angeles – Gregg having shot himself in the foot to avoid the draft – where they recorded two forgettable albums for Liberty Records as the Hour Glass. While working as a session man in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Gregg was summoned to Jacksonville, Florida, in March 1969. There he joined Duane and the other musicians – Dickey Betts (guitar), Berry Oakley (bass), Butch Trucks (drums) and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson (drums) – comprising the Allman Brothers Band’s earliest incarnation.

“It was nice, round, kind of dull-ended instead of sharp,” Allman wrote of the Hammond B-3 sound, “and I thought it blended with guitar just perfect.” In addition to being the band’s main vocalist and composer of signature tunes “Whipping Post” and “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin,'” Gregg and his long blond hair also served as its visual focus. The band enjoyed meteoric success with their albums Live at the Fillmore East (1971) and Eat a Peach (1972). Between those albums, tragically, Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident, followed a year later by Oakley’s eerily similar demise.

Shortly thereafter, Gregg recorded his solo debut, 1973’s Laid Back, which offered an economical à la carte selection of blues, R&B and soul songs in contrast with the Allmans’ epic all-you-can-eat live shows. Its critical success, combined with Gregg’s marriage to pop superstar Cher in 1975 and the group’s collective appetites for narcotics, led to the Allman Brothers’ breakup after the recording of their disappointing 1975 release Win, Lose or Draw. Additionally, Allman’s bandmates shunned him for testifying to a grand jury, in exchange for immunity, regarding his “valet” and drug provider John C. “Scooter” Herring. Audience shouts of “Narc!” plagued him for years afterward.

Allman continued to release solo albums throughout the Seventies and Eighties. These included the live Gregg Allman Tour (1974) and Playin’ Up a Storm (1977). Two the Hard Way (1977), a duo album with Cher credited to “Allman and Woman” resembled an Ashford & Simpson-style effort. An admitted hardcore alcoholic throughout the Eighties and most of the Nineties, Allman enjoyed something of a comeback with I’m No Angel (1986) and, three years later, a reformed Allman Brothers Band. His only non-anthology solo release the following decade was Searching For Simplicity (1997). Allman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Allman Brothers Band in 1995 and would receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 Grammys.  

In 2007, Allman was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, which he attributed to a dirty tattoo needle, and he received a liver transplant. He also suffered from an atrial fibrillation and eventually switched to a gluten-free vegan diet.

T-Bone Burnett produced Low Country Blues (2011), a solid set of blues covers. Allman continued touring with the Allman Brothers until the group played its official final show at New York’s Beacon Theater on October 28th, 2014. All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs and Voice of Gregg Allman, a live album featuring performances by Allman alongside contemporaries Dr. John, Eric Church, Jackson Browne, John Hiatt, Warren Haynes and Widespread Panic, among others, was released in 2015. He released Gregg Allman Live: Back to Macon GA in 2015. A rep for Allman has confirmed that a new album, the Don Was–produced Southern Blood, will be released in September.

In 2016, Allman was forced to cancel his summer tour due to unspecified “serious health problems.” After briefly returning to the stage – Allman’s last concert was at his 2016 Laid Back Festival in Atlanta – and scheduling a winter tour, Allman again canceled the dates, citing a vocal injury. 

“This is the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long, long, time,” Allman said in a statement after calling off his winter tour. “I’ve been on the road for 45 years because I live to play music with my friends for my fans. As much as I hate it, it’s time for me to take some real time off to heal.”

After rescheduling the dates, in March 2017, Allman’s rep announced, “It has been determined that Gregg will not be touring in 2017,” although no reason was provided for the canceled concerts. The next month, Allman denied rumors that he was in hospice care.

Allman is survived by his wife, Shannon Allman, his children, Devon, Elijah Blue, Delilah Island Kurtom and Layla Brooklyn Allman and three grandchildren.

“When it’s all said and done, I’ll go to my grave and my brother will greet me saying, ‘Nice work, little brother – you did all right,'” Allman wrote in the last lines of My Cross to Bear. “I must have said this a million times, but if I died today, I’ve had me a blast. I wouldn’t trade [my life] for nobody’s, but I don’t know if I’d do it again. If somebody offered me a second round, I think I’d have to pass on it.”

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